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The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Tomblin’s Executive Order on Marcellus Gas Emergency Rules
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by Jim Kotcon, Chapter Energy Committee Chair | 2011

Gas drilling seems to be the latest extractive industry gone awry!

The Good:
1. Continues the ban on land application of brines or disposal in sewage treatment plants.
2. Directs DEP to file Emergency rules to
    A. Require Sediment control plans for well sites;
    B. Requires water management plans including source, amount and timing of water withdrawals, additives used, and waste water disposal. Plans must demonstrate that adequate in-stream flow remains.
3. Safety plans.
4. Casing and well construction standards.
5. Hauling and record keeping requirements for waste water.
6. Public notice for wells within municipalities.
7. Disposal of drill cuttings and mud in approved solid waste facilities.

The Bad:
1. No money for additional inspectors.
2. No regulation of air, noise, radiation, truck traffic or other impacts.
3. No assessment of cumulative impacts of multiple wells to the local community.
4. No public comment procedures, and no public notice for wells in rural areas.
5. No protection for karst (limestone) areas.
6. No protection for parks or other public lands.
7. No TDS standard for water.
8. Retains the Oil and Gas Inspectors Examining Board.
9. No change in buffer zones for homes, schools, etc. No increase in well testing requirements.
10. No change in blanket bond loopholes.

The Ugly:
Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Charleston Gazette, the public has learned that Tomblin’s Executive Order was significantly weakened at the behest of the gas industry. Tomblin justified the changes claiming the industry reps were “consultants.” No representatives from the public or from environmental or health groups were “consulted.” In other words, the foxes truly are in charge of the henhouse.

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